It’s very important to keep improving our physical balance throughout life. The ability to stay firmly planted on our feet, avoid falls and hold a firm position while standing or getting up are essential. Falls add an array of undesirable complications, particularly in our later years.
Maintaining our ability to stay balanced and strong is the number one reason that if you ever meet me on the streets of NYC or anywhere else — you’ll likely find me in a pair of Converse. Why? Because since I moved to NYC back in 1985, I made walking my go-to #1 form of exercise, and I need to make sure I’ve always got the shoes on to make that possible! So, yes, as unfashionable as this might seem to some, even while wearing a full length ballgown, I’ll likely have my platform or wedge Converse sneakers on —but I’ll be strutting with ankle & foot stability!
We fall because hip and leg joints shift and muscles aren’t quite as strong as they once might have been. Vision changes compound balance issues. Reaction times slow, too, so if we stumble, the realization that we need to stop the fall can come too late. Then there are medications that may alter both balance and blood pressure. Then, there are digital devices we hunch over—which certainly doesn’t help posture or balance.
As we all need balance maintenance, in addition to walking often, here are some simple things most of us can work on to improve balance.
1) Hold onto the back of a steady chair and try balancing on just one leg. Lift the other in whatever way you can. Hold a few seconds, then switch to the other foot.
2) While holding onto the back of the chair, lift one leg to the side, holding your body upright and steady. Switch to other leg. Repeat.
3) Try walking heel to toe. Consciously step down with your heel and roll your foot to your toes. Repeat with other foot.
4) Sit or try standing with a book balanced on your head. See how long you can hold it.
5) Try balance walking. See if you can take a few steps keeping that book on your head.
6) Try squatting down and getting back up again. Find something for balance to hold onto if you’re afraid you’ll tip.
Let me know how you’re doing!